Today we’re going to talk about a familiar brand of chocolate: Hershey’s. I will say this one up front: I am not a fan. I used to be but then about a year or two ago, I cut way back on my cheap chocolate consumption and started rewarding myself on occasion with good chocolate. At that point, it was like a blindfold had been removed from my eyes and I could see not just light, but also all the colors of the rainbow.
Hershey’s chocolate is what gives American chocolate a bad name. Cheap chocolate does not have to taste bad — as evidenced by Cadbury’s offerings — but Hershey’s does an excellent job of ruining what could be a good thing.
It took me a long time to figure out what is wrong with Hershey’s and the only way I can describe it is that their milk chocolate tastes like the milk is a little sour. And their dark chocolate is utterly horrible — usually either too sweet or too oily or both. If I had to choose between consuming Hershey’s dark chocolate and going without chocolate at all, I would go with the deprivation.
[I won't even deign to discuss their white so-called chocolate, because, in short, it is not chocolate and therefore not worth putting in my mouth.]
Hershey’s signature product is, of course, the Hershey’s Kiss. Plain milk chocolate Kisses have that sour milk taste I just mentioned, but are also completely unsatisfying — leaving me wanting more even as I hate myself for partaking in the first place.
Actually, the same is true for pretty much all of the Kisses flavors — milk chocolate with almonds, milk with cherry, milk with caramel, dark chocolate, etc. — far too sweet and always leaving my sweet tooth unsatisfied. As I’ve said here before, I can only assume that the Hershey’s company is putting something else into their secret recipe (crack? meth?) that causes people to want their product more.
Also, I hate how stingy and secretive the Hershey’s company is. We visited the company’s headquarters in Pennsylvania several years ago and I had a vision in my head of it being like visiting Willy Wonka’s factory. You know, getting to see how things are made and getting LOTS of free samples.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
We were given ONE bite-sized sample at the end of our fake tour. That’s right, a FAKE tour. We were put on an amusement park-like ride and shown tantalizing glimpses of what the process to make Hershey’s Kisses might look like, but it was not the real thing. Proprietary information and all that.
I call bullshit.
When we were in England last year, we went to the Cadbury’s factory and saw the actual processes. I haven’t heard of any competing companies stealing the magic recipe for Wispas and then running Cadbury’s into the ground, so obviously the tours aren’t a problem.
Furthermore, we were given loads of free candy — I think we ended up getting something like four or five free candy bars each. Heaven. And you know what? Generosity hasn’t brought Cadbury’s down either.
So Hershey’s? You can suck it. My choco-dollars will be spent elsewhere.
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Luckily, today’s chocolate discussion is not all dreck and crap.
Elegant was with me when I opened the package and here is an exact transcription of what she said, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…” And I swear her eyes rolled back in her head in ecstasy for just a moment.
So what makes this candy just so very perfect? First of all, the caramel is primo, absolutely top notch. Then, the dark chocolate used to enrobe it is also high quality — not too sweet, not too bitter, and (as often seems to happen with American dark chocolate) not too oily. Dusting the top of each candy are a few flecks of sea salt that enhance the overall flavor. No exaggeration, I have a mouth full of drool just thinking about this.
It’s the salt that throws people for a loop. Salt added to chocolate? What’s that all about? Next week we’re going to investigate this idea of sweet + salty a bit further.